Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Rami Ismail, and I’m one half of Dutch studio Vlambeer, which is responsible for games like Super Crate Box, Luftrausers, Ridiculous Fishing and Nuclear Throne.
My tasks include development, production, marketing and business. I am also the creator of presskit(), a tool for developers to use when presenting their game to press, and I’m currently working on distribute(), another developer-focused tool.
What are you working on right now?
Nuclear Throne, a really fast-paced top-down action game set in a strange post-apocalyptic future in which all sorts of things on Earth have mutated into monsters (above far right).
The game offers procedurally generated worlds, the ability to grow your character with powerful mutations, a ridiculous array of overpowered weapons and enemies to make sure none of that will help you unless you’re good.
What was the first game that you ever worked on in the industry?
The first game I made was a terrible text adventure I made at the age of six. The next 15 years of my life or so were mostly numerous terrible prototypes and failed attempts at making something ‘big’.
The first commercial release I ever contributed to was probably Starwraith 3D Games’ title Evochron. Over time, my experience went up, the scope of my projects went down and I started finishing games of my own. Vlambeer’s debut title Super Crate Box.
What was the first video game you ever played, and did you enjoy it?
It was a terrible MSDOS game called Janitor Joe. There was no redeeming quality to it, and to this day I do not know whether my terrible memories of the game reveal that Janitor Joe was simply completely bugged, cruelly impossible or whether my obsessive attempts at the game just show how terrible a gamer I was at age six.
What was the most recent game you played, and did you enjoy it?
I’m currently playing Soul Sacrifice (above). I’m not sure what I think of it yet, not being pretty far into the game, but I appreciate that you can immediately skip ahead to the final battle with the main antagonist, regardless of your strength or equipment. I’m also running through Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright on my 3DS, which I’m enjoying a lot for both its presentation and its gameplay.
What is your favourite game ever, and for what reason?
I think that’d be the original Metal Gear Solid. It’s the first game I bought with my own money, and in many ways it showed to me that games could be more than just ‘games’. Metal Gear Solid talked of serious subjects, things like relationships and politics, betrayal and bipedal nuclear-equipped battle robots.
How many hours a week do you spend playing video games?
On average, I try and play an hour or so a day – most of that time is spent browsing through the @CuratedGames feed I created on Twitter.
What do you enjoy about the video games industry today?
The borders of ‘video game’ are broadening, the variety of experiences is increasing, and there are more people in our industry now than any other time.
I travel to help out in emergent territories, where the games industry is only just taking off, and seeing their dedication despite the endless obstacles, but also their fresh ideas and perspectives, is truly inspiring.
What disappoints you about the video games industry today?
That the struggle for diversity is still not a widely accepted valid one. I’m not just talking about gender diversity, although I find it an extremely important subject – I’m talking about all sorts of diversity here. I’m talking about diversity in race and sexuality, disabilities, age, nationality, ideology and language. There are simply not enough games by people that aren’t already inundated with gamer or geek culture, people without Western or Japanese backgrounds, and people that aren’t white or male or straight.